After much debate and gnashing of teeth in recent months over a set of overly-complicated and downright tedious travel and visa regulations, it seems the South African government has finally seen the error of their ways.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom made an announcement late last week that visitors to South Africa will no longer have to carry unabridged birth certificates for their children and that travel agents may now make visa applications on their client’s behalf. This comes in sharp contrast to the tune being sung by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, with the two government heads clashing on the issue for some time already.
A report by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa earlier this year warned that the new regulations were clearly hurting the tourism industry, and more than 100,000 foreign visitors could be prevented from entering the country in 2015 as a result.
Hanekom says several concessions will be implemented to make life a little easier for tourists, including the setting up of a long-term multiple entry visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years, as well as allowing school principals to issue permission letters for children to travel on school trips into South Africa. In the long-term it’s hoped that waivers will be put in place for countries like India, China and Russia, and also the issuing of visas on arrival for countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said in a statement that it is encouraging to see some of the challenges facing foreign travellers are being lifted after months of warnings by stakeholders in the SA travel industry.
Have you had any issues with travelling to and from South Africa as a result of the new regulations? Here’s an earlier post we made on how to get your visitor’s visa in four easy steps.
Check out the list of planned concessions being made by the Home Affairs Department on EWN.